Toronto police to examine SUV, seek witnesses after girl pinned between 2 vehicles dies
Makeshift memorial continues to grow at St. Raphael Catholic School
Toronto police will examine an SUV and are seeking witnesses to a collision outside a school on Monday afternoon in which a five-year-old girl was pinned between two vehicles and later died in hospital.
One SUV, without a driver, rolled and struck the girl, a senior kindergarten student, and her father, 42, as the pair were walking by another SUV after school. The first vehicle then hit the second vehicle.
The girl's name is Camila De Almeida Torcato, according to the Toronto Catholic District School Board. She suffered life-threatening injuries and was rushed to hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Her father, who suffered non-life-threatening injuries, was also taken to hospital.
Zebib Tukue, a parent who was at the scene at the time of the accident, told CBC Toronto that she heard screaming shortly after she had passed the girl and her parents.
"The mother was holding the child on her lap and the dad was screaming," Tukue said through an interpreter.
"I just stayed two minutes and I couldn't stand. It was horrible, I couldn't stand," she added.
Coun. Maria Augimeri, councillor for Ward 9 York Centre, alleged on Tuesday that parents are disregarding signs in the area that say no stopping as they drop off and pick up their children before and after school. The collision occurred near St. Raphael Catholic School in suburban North York.
"Parents still at every school, every day, morning and afternoon, don't pay attention to the signs that we put up. And this could have been avoided," Augimeri told reporters.
"We have a problem in all of our schools," she said. "All of the areas surrounding the community schools are plagued with the problem that, over 30 years ago, when they were first constructed, parents didn't drive their kids to school as much as they do today. And today, that's the issue. They drive. They demand parking and stopping."
Toronto police, however, would not confirm that either vehicle was disregarding signs in the area.
Meanwhile, a makeshift memorial near the school, which runs from junior kindergarten to grade eight, continues to grow. Stuffed toys and bunches of flowers could be seen in the snow on Tuesday. Parents and children stopped by the memorial to pay their respects.
Const. Clint Stibbe, spokesperson for Toronto police's traffic services, said police were called to Ianhall Road, a dropoff and pickup area near the school in Downsview, for a collision at 3:20 p.m. ET on Monday.
Stibbe said a 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV "began to move forward while unoccupied" eastbound and struck the girl and her father as they were walking by a parked Mercedes-Benz SUV on the east side of Ianhall Road. The two were trying to enter the parked Mercedes-Benz, which was also hit by the Hyundai.
"Unfortunately, the vehicle that was set in motion struck the man and the child. The child was pinned between the Santa Fe and Mercedes-Benz," he said.
Police to examine vehicle that moved
Stibbe said police would like to speak to anyone who witnessed the incident, and who may have dashboard camera video that could shed light on what happened or security camera footage of the area.
He declined to say if police have interviewed the girl's father or the Hyundai's owner.
Witnesses could provide information that may be valuable to the investigation, he said.
"Somebody may have a point of view that we are not aware of or that we need to know. We are looking to collect as much evidence as possible to determine what happened," he said.
"Until we determine what exactly happened, we cannot say anything."
Stibbe said police are not saying it was a freak accident because not all of the facts have been collected. "It's not possible to call it anything," he said.
Officers will also examine the Hyundai to determine if any mechanical failure or issues may have caused it to move.
Marianne Melo, whose son, 11, attends the school, said she burst into tears when she found out the girl had died. She said she takes precautions with her son when she walks him to school.
"I feel bad. My condolences to the family," she said.
"It's devastating. I can't imagine losing a child. I just can't."
Melo said she also feels badly for the person who owned the SUV that rolled while unoccupied.
"Nobody wants that. And to live with that, it's got to be devastating for them. It's sad on both sides."
"Every child will have a different view of dealing with this kind of tragic news. Most important is our presence, for students to understand these kinds of accident do happen," he said.
"We are here to provide support in any fashion that is required."
Emmy Milne, communications manager for the board, said a team of grief counsellors are at the school on Tuesday to talk to students. The team includes a social worker, psychologist, chaplain and members of the school's religion team.
Stibbe said it is too early in the investigation to determine if any charges will be laid.
"The investigation is not anywhere near over at this point," he said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-1900, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at www.222tips.com, or text TOR and a message to CRIMES (274637).
With files from Nicole Martin, Linda Ward